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What is Data Capture?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Data input can be performed in several ways, including by data entry. In data entry, data is placed in chosen fields of a database by a human agent using a device such as a mouse, keypad, keyboard, touch screen, or stylus, or alternatively, with speech recognition software. Data capture is a kind of data input in which there is no data entry. Instead, data is collected in conjunction with a separate activity.

One of the devices involved in this method includes supermarket checkouts equipped with barcode readers. These readers are electronic devices that use a laser beam to scan a barcode. They are categorized as non-contact automatic data capture devices and need to be close to the material they are scanning to read it.

Magnetic stripe readers, also called card swipe machines, collect the information stored in the magnetic material that is found on bank, charge, and credit cards. This information often includes an account number, the customer’s own identification number, and other information. ATMs can also read this information. If the magnetic stripe is damaged or exposed to a strong magnetic or electrical field, the information will not be retrievable.

A point-of-sale (POS) terminal, through which credit card transactions are submitted and validated, reads the bank name and customer account number of a card swiped through a magnetic stripe reader. If the bank responds that the funds are available, the POS terminal transfers the approved amount to the account of the seller, finishing the transaction with a printed receipt.

Optical character recognition (OCR) involves the conversion of a digitized image of text created in print or handwritten to characters that are recognizable by word-processing programs. It is also used to preserve documents in an electronic format without having to re-enter data by hand.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a data capture technology in which identification of items is done through transponders that are attached to them. A transponder is a type of radio-relay equipment that is passive. Its function is to passively respond with a repetition of the original signal or a coded recognition signal when struck by an initiating signal. RFIDs work from greater distances than barcode readers can, which is one of their values.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth , Writer
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for EasyTechJunkie, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.

Discussion Comments

By anon304453 — On Nov 20, 2012

How do I capture bank statements?

By datacapture — On Jun 02, 2011

Data capture and data entry are in many senses the same thing. Although it really depends on the context of the statement.

Data capture with scanners is the way forward for companies based in the UK or the US. Key entry will increasingly be outsourced due to the costs involved. You simply cannot compete with people who will work for a dollar an hour and are connected by an internet cable.

By FootballKing — On Sep 29, 2010

I wonder if you would consider things like scanners, cameras and three dimensional scanners as data capture devices. After all, a digital image is simply a graph of pixels that you are capturing with an electronic device.

The 3D scanners available on the market are quite remarkable data capture devices. Not only can they display a visual representation of the scanned image but they can also capture things in numerical value such as height, width and length of a given surface.

By IceCarver — On Sep 29, 2010

Does anyone else remember when Radioshack tried giving away free bar code scanners in the shape of a cat? The concept behind it was that you could scan any product with a UPC code and it would automatically pull up the information on the internet for you.

I remember taking my home and setting it all up and realizing that it was more of just the thrill of scanning things that was exciting. The actual data capture part was way better then actually reading the information on the internet sites. After all, anyone can do a Google search for the product information by simply entering the name or code directly through the keyboard.

In this sense the definition of what data entry is and data capture are kind of of blurred. If you type into a keyboard, the board is capturing your data as keystrokes. These are loose definitions but helpful none the less.

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth


Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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